Transitions & Training

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, yes that’s right folks the eagle has landed!

In the past week I’ve been all over the country in my journey and travels to finally get all my things packed and ready to come back to school. I concluded my summer studies of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona with a series of reading, writing, and spoken examinations, then hopped on a plane and “high tailed” it back to my city in Virginia for about a day, before road tripping back to the lovely humid state of Florida. The change from 5% humidity in Arizona to 90% humidity in Florida is drastic but, fear not, do-able.

Turkish coffee my friend from Libya made my roommate and I while we were studying for our final Arabic exams!

Now that I am back in Florida and reunited with my beloved Keurig and seemingly endless supply of coffee and tea, I realized that Daytona Beach really does feel like home. My cozy room, blogging in the morning from bed with a cup of tea and an airport view, amazing sunsets, my favorite run loop, beach vibes. While the school year isn’t in full swing yet I’m back at RA training prepping hall decorations, door tags, and bulletin boards, and have my Orientation Retreat rolling up in only a few days too. There’s almost an entire month of preparation for new students to come in the fall and I am extremely excited.

Coffee from a cafe in Tucson

In other news I’m half way moved into my dorm room (ha). Somehow I forgot to bring hangers and haven’t had a chance to hang up any of my clothes yet… so I’m one Walmart trip or one amazon order away from being unpacked. I also omitted plants from my journey to Florida but I am in the market for some so look out for updates on that! Also my road trip from Norfolk, VA to Daytona Beach, FL with the ‘rents and my pup Kita was one for the books. Sleeping in the back seat with a sweet dog was absolutely fantastic.

My dad driving us down to Riddle, with my favorite sleeping pit bull.

To sum it up I will be continuing my Arabic studies this semester as an independent study at Riddle, which is one of the classes I’m most excited about, aside from AFROTC starting up again, and of course being an RA on the sports student hall and getting to meet my residents, and leading my Orientation group. Overall, I’m just excited for the semester to start. That’s what’s popping in my life right now. Will report back as the looming Fall Semester approaches. Keep on keeping on.

Sunshine & San Diego

Happy July everyone! Also happy summer! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona with the temperatures in the 100+ everyday, typically around 108 and the intense sunshine and low humidity that accompanies the desert. 

The first semester of my third year level Arabic class has concluded with me obtaining a final grade of an A. I took a small vacation during fourth of July weekend to San Diego, California with some friends who also speak arabic, which was a great break. 

I’d never been to California before so this spontaneous road trip that began with my friends and I renting a car for the long weekend, stopping for snacks and coffee, then setting off, was so much fun. The drive from Arizona to California is only about five hours, for some that might feel like a lot, but the scenery of the desert, the mountains, and eventually the ocean, plus great music and four friends who had only met a month before was truly a wonderful adventure.

A mountain side view of the Pacific Ocean in San Diego.

We only had a few days to explore the city so we spent them at about three different beaches, Coronado, Pacific, and Imperial, watched fireworks seaside on the night of the fourth, and visited many 24 hour Mexican food places. We also briefly hiked along some coastal mountains and I thrived in all the vegan food options that San Diego had to offer. For the record, my love of chips and salsa has only increased. My favorite beach foods are now veggie pizza, apples, and chili powder covered mangoes. I commend California for satisfying my morning brunch and coffee shop needs as well. 

Sunset at the San Diego Harbor!

We also spent time in downtown San Diego exploring the harbor and all the restaurants and shops in Little Italy. Not to mention we had some quite entertaining encounters with Birds, the motorized scooters, not actual birds. They are an extremely popular form of transportation there and while they are an effective way to get around they are also so fun to play with when you’re with a group of friends. I highly encourage you to try them for the experience, if you have not.

In other news, I have just completed my first week in my second semester of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona and I have less than a month left here. My first semester flew by and while I am enjoying the nice break from studying engineering, the classes here are rigorous but definitely not as stressful, or perhaps I’ve just gotten better at managing stressful situations? Will comment more on this when school starts back up in the fall and my normal engineering and AFROTC schedule is back in full swing again.

Side note: I added some new stickers to my laptop case, a small Arizona one in the shape of the state and an Arabic one. 

My laptop case featuring two new stickers… I need to get some Riddle stickers to add to it when I get back to Florida.

The Arabic sticker says: ان مع العسر يسرا which means with every hardship comes ease.

Keep on keeping on folks and enjoy the summer, stay cool! Will report back soon!

Productivity & Priorities

 !أهلا و سهلا

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona where the weather forecast is 100+ for as far ahead as predictable, and clouds are still a rarity, despite it being monsoon season. 

A small sample of the abundance of cacti that call Tucson home on the University of Arizona’s campus.

I am currently blogging from a shaded outdoor patio on a lovely Sunday morning at a local coffee shop. My Spotify playlist as of recently consists of Arabic music, coffeehouse study tunes, and meditation beats.

I am a week away from finishing my first month here in Arizona, aka one semester of an intensive language program. This coming week I have class two days before my final exam and then a short break for the 4th of July. 

I have found myself spending a lot of time in cafes and coffee, tea, or expresso houses as of recently, and while this is a recurring theme no matter what city I’m in, upon reflection of this I have begin to learn a bit more about myself, which leads me to my next topic (essential to college students): under the topic of time management falls the balance of prioritizing your responsibilities and effectively managing your free time.

Weekday mornings with my wing buddy typically consist of alternating places to grab coffee and breakfast.

While in Tucson studying intensely my schedule had been pretty full, but I’ve found while it’s absolutely glorious to take time to relax and unwind, I thrive in the chaos of a busy lifestyle. I find myself being most attracted to filling up my days and weeks with plans in the calendar on my phone, making daily to do lists, and even when I study or do homework I feel most productive in areas that are calm where I can buzz away at my work and get in the zone. 

Here’s a peaceful view from the pool I took the other day as the sunset over the mountains and reflected beautifully on the water.

When I’m at Riddle during the Fall and Spring semesters my favorite places to study are in my room with music, in study rooms, or in Starbucks outside. There is just something fundamentally appealing about working outside in the sunshine with technology. As I currently soak up the juxtaposition of working on my computer with the sound of cicadas in the background and the familiar universal chatter of coffee shop conversations, I find a productive home in the atmosphere that I am attracted to in every city. 

It’s so important to know yourself and find out under what circumstances you do your best work in. While this may take some time to figure out, and definitely some trial and error, the process of learning more about yourself and how to initiate prime productivity conditions is 100% worth it.

For example, certain subjects in school I prefer to study in groups, while others I prefer to work alone on. If you put a little time and effort into figuring out what atmospheres you prefer to do work in before classes get chaotic with exams and projects, it is extremely advantageous in preparation for your future self under stress during crunch time.

I wish everyone a continually relaxing and productive summer. Will report back soon. Have a happy 4th y’all!

Endings & New Beginnings

Greetings and salutations folks. I am currently blogging from my hotel room and it’s my last night in Daytona Beach for a while, or at least until August. Tomorrow I’m road tripping back to my home in Virginia and about a week later I’ll be heading to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama for 14 days of Field Training at the first session for summer 2019. Upon completion of training, I have about a day to catch my breath before I head to Arizona for Project GO, round two furthering my Arabic studies.

Out of my entire sophomore year, and quite frankly my time at Riddle thus far, this past month has been the absolute best. Now I say best with the full disclosure that I had still had homework, quizzes, presentations, group projects, tests, and final exams, but I honestly had a great time because one: my mindset, and two: the people I surrounded myself with.

My grades this semester were the best they’ve ever been in college so far and nothing monumental changed in priorities. I’ve always put school first, but this semester I put myself first in a lot of situations too. I made genuine connections with friends that helped me to de-stress so much. I took time for myself to do yoga and meditate and workout. I wish I could tell you I got a ton of sleep this semester, but I didn’t, truthfully I had very many late nights and very stressful nights trying to grasp concepts while studying. My classes this semester weren’t easy, but somehow my outlook changed and I went from overwhelming myself with concern over grades to going with the flow and putting more focus on learning material, and also unwinding. My work/life balance this semester was something that definitely improved from freshman year. Even in studying for finals, I strategized by putting in a few solid hours of studying and practice problems, taking a break, then getting back into it. Rest is SO important, especially for your brain.

Now that the semester is over, I am spending my short break before I go off to training by reading, working out, and hopefully sleeping a lot more. Books that I’ve dove into recently are The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. I have also recently discovered my new favorite poet too, her name is Morgan Harper Nichols and her art is immensely insightful, powerful, and healing.

In other news, before leaving Daytona Beach, I had the privilege of going to brunch with some of my favorite gal pals, and I got to attend my good friend’s commissioning ceremony, where he officially became a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

Brunch with one of my best friends before we part ways for the summer.
Post commissioning ceremony with this newly sworn in Air Force Officer.

Now as I prepare for my journey back home, Field Training, and a summer of Arizona heat studying Arabic, I would like to leave you with this: every ending is an opportunity for beginnings. Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on!

Finals & Finishing Up

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, where I will be until approximately the first week of May when I pack up and move out for the summer. I must add that the spring time in Florida is particularly lovely, and aside from the occasional outlier variations in temperatures, it has been for the most part in the 80s sans the one 98 degree day and the 55 degree day (shoutout global warming).

In recent news AFROTC has officially concluded for the spring 2019 semester, and this year’s Field Training Preparation Group ended with a total of 68 real mvps. Typically in ROTC the freshman class starts out with about 200 and each year the numbers get smaller and smaller. I’m honored to have had the amazing opportunity to stick it out with my group of 68 class A citizens.

Spring 2019 Det 157 FTP Group’s last PT at the pool!

I must include that I recently went to Cinnamon Tree Cafe with one of my best friends and afterwards worked on a group project for our Modern Middle Eastern World Affairs class on the topic of the Arab Israeli Conflict in the Middle East, outside in the Florida sunshine relaxing by the pool. The weekends are my favorite.

Crepes, coffee, and presentation prep on a Saturday morning with this gem!

Something that makes me extremely happy in lieu of the dark cloud of final examinations approaching is that the basil I planted in my room a few weeks ago when I hosted the staff activity at my building’s weekly Resident Advisor meeting is thriving.

My basil babies in all their glory. The morning light they get from my window in my room is so great and they’ve really taken off.

Another really great aspect of Riddle that I’ve recently opened my eyes to, is that despite our school not being huge, it has enough people that you’re always meeting someone new, but also has the comfort of being able to spot at least a few people you know wherever you are on campus.

Even though there’s one week left to the semester before finals begin, I’m still meeting new people and making new friends, which is honestly so unexpected. It seems to be that when you’re not looking to make new friends people walk into your life exactly when you need them the most, even if you don’t initially realize it. 

Despite being very busy and stressed with classes, scheduling, and packing for Field Training this summer, I’m still finding ways to stay sane by going on runs with my friends from ROTC, having group study sessions at cafes, practicing yoga and meditating regularly, and going on walks to clear my mind. I highly recommend self care especially at particularly stressful moments in the semester.

Views from my dorm as I study.

Now, I’m off to turn in some Aerospace Flight Vehicles homework and go to my Differential Equations class. Keep on keeping on folks, study hard, remember to take time for yourself even if you may feel like you have no time at all, and I’ll see you on the flip side of finals!

Goodbye island life

This is probably the only blog from an Embry-Riddle student who started two first days at this University, 5 years apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I was a Key West trolley tour guide.  I entertained tourists with facts of the island and repeated the same corny jokes to them every day, sometimes with a few originals.  Chances are good that if you visited Key West and rode on an orange and green trolley over the past year, I was your bus driver and guide.  I also drove the Key West haunted tours, a type of meet and greet with Key West characters like Robert the doll as well as the other types of spirits….not necessarily the ones found in haunted houses.  I found myself living on the island by accident.  I went to be a dog sitter for two weeks and ended staying almost a year!  You might say I caught what the locals call the “Keys Disease” and it’s hard to resist.  People come for a visit but never leave.  It’s said on the island that if you show up to work every day, you have a job.  If two weeks later you’re still showing up on time, they’ll make you the manager.  Well, sure enough, the dog left town with its owner and I stayed.  As well as being a tour guide, I worked other side jobs such as newspaper delivery boy, bakeshop dishwasher, and event security (a.k.a. bouncer).

The island life was a relaxing and good one.  It is hard to resist the sunniest place in Florida with the least amount of rain.  It ‘s truly Paradise except, endless renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs blaring down from Duval Street.  One day I woke up with one more hangover and realized I wasn’t moving forward with my life.  It was time for me to progress forward on my flight plan for life.

This was the culmination of a restlessness that I tried to resolve, and it brought me through many different experiences.  These included several semesters at a state university, a shopkeeper in South Beach, and an unpaid Internship for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in DC.  This was right after I withdrew myself from Embry Riddle; I wanted to try something different in life. But my passions drew me back.

On August 27, 2012, my second first day of college began.  Once again excited to be making progress, living in campus dorms, and starting from where I had left off, but more focused on my degree: Aviation Business Administration.  In one week, I will be curing my desires, dusting off the backpack and train hopping across Europe to appease my wandering soul.  In one month, I will be attending classes with the Study Abroad program in Berlin, and in one year, I will be an Embry-Riddle alumnus. It’s a long way from the old island life, and it feels great!